General Reading / Book Thread for 2019

Can’t make promises. It’s my reread where I’m obligated to be bowled over by the beauty of the prose and the atmosphere

Also it’s well funny

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@manches-brute I’ve started a reread of Vineland, partially inspired by your reread. Probably my favourite Pynchon so far. Think the denser novels are a bit beyond me. My wife picked up Against The Day from a charity shop for me and it’s bit daunting, so I’ve gone with this again instead for now.

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Have you read Against the Day before? I agree with my favourite literary YouTuber TheBookChemist that Pynchon’s reputation as a difficult writer isn’t entirely earned and that, outside of Gravity’s Rainbow, his daunting-looking doorsteps are way easier going than you may expect.

I’m really enjoying Vineland too, so far. I remember by this point having kind of waning interest first time round, but I’m absolutely loving it at the moment.

He’s great to re-read tbh, I’ve found (just Against the Day to go through a second time after Vineland, I think). Once you kind of know where you are with him / his novels, you can really start to enjoy what’s there.

I’m reading “The Crying of Lot 49” b/c it’s the smallest book I own and it had to fit in hand luggage…

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I’ve not read it before, no. I found Mason & Dixon a bit hard going but I may have just not been in the right frame of mind for it. I don’t know if there’s some kind of sweet spot between not worrying too much about understanding what’s going on, but knowing enough to enjoy what is going on. Had some top set pieces and passages though.

Other part of what inspired my Vineland reread is easing myself back in to the Pynchon world before giving Against The Day a go.

Been reading lots of books a girl I follow on Instagram recommends. They’re all ever so slightly trashy but unique and I came to The Pisces and Bunnies through her and loved them. She’s been raving about The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart and how she’s reading it for the second time already this year.

Fuck me. That was a slog. Both too long and meandering and too quick when it came to tackling the times things actually happened, or inserting a new storyline or denouement by way of one throwaway line with no build up or follow up. Especially tackling the spiral of abuse within the story.

Waaaaay too try hard at being whimsical and given that so much of it was about flowers I never really found myself visualising a single flower.

If it was half the length I’d probably be less annoyed at wasting about two weeks waiting for it to get good.

Anyway the third Joseph Knox book is out now so come payday I’ll be lapping that up, not sure what to read in the meantime.

Have you read this before?

I haven’t! But it’s been on the list for a while

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Its really really great - probably my favourite lengthy novel I’ve ever read. Just flew by, totally engrossing.

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Just read Kristen Arnett’s ‘Mostly Dead Things’. Great story about Florida taxidermy, love and loss. Totally recommend.

Moving by Jenny Eclair was an easy holiday type read.

Home Fire was a bit YA. Not sure if it is supposed to be?? Good premise but too simplistic I thought.

Trying to read Circe. Struggling. Should I persist??

Was very close to buying this in Waterstones on Sunday. Decided that as much as I’ve enjoyed the first 2, they don’t merit a hardback’s price.

I did pick up Europe at Dawn as reading Europe in Autumn has reminded me how great the world that’s being built is, with a lot of humour too.

I’ve not long finished The Hidden Life of Trees. It’s flipping amazing. Trees are flipping amazing. Almost every page I had to double take at some ridiculous sci-fi type property of trees. So, so good.

I mean I had heard of the network of fungus which connects trees together, but I didn’t realise they did this:

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This sounds very good, who is the author?

Peter Wohlleben

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Thanks, have added it to my list. Trees are so cool.

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Okay getting quite into reading again so will start posting books I read. But I don’t find it easy to talk about books so this will be very brief.

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
My sister got me this a couple of years ago because she really loved it. I had a couple of aborted attempts at reading at it but was always kind of turned off by the theatre elements. Really glad I persevered this time as I actually liked it a lot. I felt as it was getting towards the end that I would be frustrated by the lack of answers / closure but actually I think it worked fine (though I wouldn’t have objected to another few (dozen) chapters).

Star of the Sea by Joseph O’Connor
Hmm. Not sure what I thought of it really. It’s not a type of novel I would normally read, and I found it pretty insufferable initially (in terms of the writing and the characters) but it did become less arduous as it went on. Still felt it thought it was a lot cleverer than it actually was though.

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I have read and loved both those books (read star of the sea about 15 years ago though, I think)
Both of them have the story within a story device which I think is something I especially enjoy tbh.

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Really want to read this after being obsessed with The Overstory.

Finished Europe At Dawn last week. It is a whole new level of head hurty.

Booker Prize longlist:

  • Margaret Atwood (Canada), The Testaments (Vintage, Chatto & Windus)
  • Kevin Barry (Ireland), Night Boat to Tangier (Canongate Books)
  • Oyinkan Braithwaite (UK/Nigeria), My Sister, The Serial Killer (Atlantic Books)
  • Lucy Ellmann (USA/UK), Ducks, Newburyport (Galley Beggar Press)
  • Bernardine Evaristo (UK), Girl, Woman, Other (Hamish Hamilton)
  • John Lanchester (UK), The Wall (Faber & Faber)
  • Deborah Levy (UK), The Man Who Saw Everything (Hamish Hamilton)
  • Valeria Luiselli (Mexico/Italy), Lost Children Archive (4th Estate)
  • Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria), An Orchestra of Minorities (Little Brown)
  • Max Porter (UK), Lanny (Faber & Faber)
  • Salman Rushdie (UK/India), Quichotte (Jonathan Cape)
  • Elif Shafak (UK/Turkey), 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World (Viking)
  • Jeanette Winterson (UK), Frankissstein (Jonathan Cape)